Marisha Pessl

Marisha Pessl writes:

"A writer's favorite books serve many purposes -- they are lighthouses, comforts, and cornerstones. These five selections -- ranging from social satire to fantasy to historical thriller -- I keep close to my desk, rereading them whenever I want to remember the thrill of losing myself inside a timeless story."


Answered Prayers
By Truman Capote

"A searing takedown of privileged New York society, but also a mystery unto itself. Capote's final unfinished novel in essence destroyed his life when it was published in excerpt form in Esquire magazine. Though Capote claimed at the time he was almost finished with the novel (and that it would be his life's crowning achievement), after his death, chapters he insisted existed -- and could describe in great detail -- have never been found. His editor believed they only existed in his head. Others believe the pages are locked away in a vault or security box, location unknown. Nobody knows for certain."


By Vladimir Nabokov

"A book so textually rich and multilayered, no matter how many times you come back to it, you find something you've never seen before."





The Big Sleep
By Raymond Chandler

"Chandler gave life to the timeless hard-boiled detective Philip Marlowe in this seminal crime novel about blackmail, kidnapping, and 1930s L.A, creating an archetype out of the world-weary but lovable loner seeking the truth."



The Alienist
By Caleb Carr

"This historical thriller about a serial killer and the first forensic criminologist is a blast, unfolding at breakneck speed against a backdrop of raunchy, seedy 1896 New York."




The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
By C. S. Lewis

"A childhood classic -- and the book that made me want to become a writer."


July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).